Star Wars-inspired fitness classes using lightsabers are now the norm at studios in New York City, Honolulu and Los Angeles.
“Where’s the fun of just simply watching something?” Daniel Reiser, class instructor at New York Jedi Fitness Studio in Manhattan, asked CNN recently. His studio has been offering the classes for nearly eight years. “I mean, you look at, say, a football fan — a lot of them are never gonna be an NFL player, but they’re gonna go in the back yard and throw that football around. It’s the same thing, but instead of footballs, we have lightsabers. It’s a way of becoming part of something that we truly love.”
Precision Parkour in Honolulu, Hawaii now has a Hawaii Jedi Saber Academy as part of their gym, too.
The workouts at the Academy are martial arts-based and focus mostly on the upper body by using staffs, sticks or swords as props. They do use LED-lighted sabers that “really adds fun, excitement and that geek factor that makes saber dueling so awesome,” Keith Mylett of Hawaii Jedi Saber Academy told LiveScience. It ends up being a mega burner for the arms and shoulders.
“When held at arms length for nearly an hour straight, there is definitely some burn in the arms, back and shoulders,” he said. The core is engaged, too, thanks to standing in a “strong, mindful stance.”
But don’t expect to just walk into class and transform into a Jedi. Mylett first has students — padawans, or Jedi trainees — use a lightsaber with a two-handed grip “this is to emphasize safety and control — two hands can more easily stop a blade,” he said. More advanced fighters can use the one-handed technique “perfect for battling a Sith Lord one on one.”
But the biggest draw for participants is the chance to be one of their on-screen heroes.
“It just feels satisfying to pick up one of these and all of a sudden you are a Jedi Knight, you are a Sith Lord,” New York Jedi Fitness Studio member Russ Briggeman told CNN.